Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 229, September 2018)

A free monthly newsletter about balancing life, work, and relationships based on the books and popular workshops conducted by Alan Weiss, Ph.D. Past copies are archived on our website:
Copyright 2018 Alan Weiss. All rights reserved.
ISSN 1934-3116 

Balancing Act® is our registered trademark. You are encouraged to share the contents with others with appropriate attribution. Please use the ® whenever the phrase "Balancing Act" is used in connection with this newsletter or our workshops.

Balancing act is in four sections this month:

1. Techniques for Balance

2. Musings

3. The Human Condition: Shenanigans


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• Be careful with your passport, in many countries it must be valid for six months beyond your visit or it won’t be accepted.

• Don’t be timid about asking people to silence their electronic devices in public places. No one is entitled to use a speaker phone in a restaurant or on a train.

• Don’t rely on attorneys for business advice. They are, by nature, archly conservative and would probably prefer you never opened the doors or turned on the lights, because that would ensure nothing bad would happen (except you’d go out of business).

• Be careful about your passions, not everyone shares them. If you’re a runner, a golfer, or love fishing, that’s great, but I never want to hear stories about it.

• It’s interesting how you can live vicariously through children. Their first roller coaster trip or bike ride brings back your own.

• My first plane trip was when I was 17, and I didn’t fly again until my honeymoon at 22. My dog Bentley had 3,000 miles as a puppy (he was born in the State of Washington), and my grandchildren at 10 have flown all over the place.

• It’s never too late to teach yourself how to “touch type” rapidly on a keyboard (I can do 60 words a minute or better) or to parallel park (this was required when I got my license in New Jersey, but in Rhode Island, apparently, you only have to get close enough for a taxi to take you to the curb).

• I’m sitting in Nantucket watching robins at 7 am pulling up worms. Which leads me to conclude it’s probably not good to be the early worm.

• No matter how bad the book, I’ll still get at least one good idea.

• The higher you go, the more shots inferiors will take at you. But when you go high enough, even their shots fall short.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I (and perhaps my generation) am profoundly misunderstood by my kids. My evidence:

• My kids think I should have music playing all the time, no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

• I do not use my thumbs to type on an iPhone.

• My college debts were paid back within the stipulated time and I felt it was my responsibility to pay for my kids’ entire tuition and for my daughter’s wedding (but not my son’s).

• I think that Facebook often reveals the truly misinformed, biases, rude, and classless nature of people which used to be somewhat private and hidden before social media.

• I do not believe that the government is the default option for addressing all social ills and injustices.

• I attend church every week and find it immensely comforting while completely at ease with people who choose not to do so.

• I would likely fight armed men before I would voluntarily get on a party bus under any circumstances.

• I find no shame in wealth produced by hard work and talent.

• I do not believe that big businesses are inherently corrupt and unsavory. I do believe that too many politicians at every level are inherently corrupt and unsavory.

• I think Elon Musk is a fraud and a conman.

• There is no way I’ll watch anything other than the highlights of a soccer game, which generally takes about 60 seconds. (And the word “nil” in a score is ludicrous.)

• I will drive our SUV to take the dogs places but that’s it, because everyone in creation seems to have an SUV or a pickup, and that’s just boring. (I bring the Bentley here in Nantucket, and when the occasional outraged millennial asks me why I reply, “Because I can.”)

• I think that the classic comedies such as Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler More, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, and their ilk still hold up well.

• I do not get Steve Harvey at all.

• My steadfast feeling is that you get engaged, get married, and have children. In that order.

Shenanigans: secret or dishonest activity or maneuvering; silly or high-spirited behavior; mischief.

Most airlines today have about six categories before first class boards: military, infant children, holders of the airline’s credit cards, relatives of the flight crew, and so on. The infant children often look old enough to vote. But the first group of all is “those who need a little extra time in boarding.” Some of these people are escorted down in wheelchairs, but some of them seem quite spry to me. And sure enough, they’re knocking me down from the rear of the plane running up the jetway when we disembark.

I had backed long ago a young guy running for secretary of state in Rhode Island, which he won as an “outsider.” Later, he ran for Senator, and asked me to make a second contribution, above the limit, by channeling it to a Massachusetts candidate who would then reimburse him. I flatly refused. The election commission found him guilty of illegal campaign fundraising, and he had to refund the money. He then asked me if he could keep my money to use to cover his legal expenses. I again told him “No.” Today, he’s running for Governor. No one is mentioning his past illegal activity. I don’t know why.

“Please listen because our options have recently changed” is a transparent attempt to prevent customers from hitting random keys to reach a human being. And, some companies now have systems where hitting * or # will disconnect you. After all, who the hell do you think you are trying to get rapid help with a problem caused by someone you’ve paid for the service?

I love the guys who stand innocently by theater lines, airport lines, casino lines and so on, refusing to wait at the end of the line, and trying to insinuate themselves into the crowd, as if no one notices or they’re pretending to be with people already there, striking up a conversation. Is that what floats your boat? See, if you have a ticket, even if you’re at the end of the line, you still have a seat and nothing can begin or move until you’re in it.

Every doorman in a class hotel is dressed well and consistent with the hotel’s zeitgeist. They are pleasant, learn your name by looking at your luggage ID, greet you warmly, and get you to the front desk quickly. Why is it, then, in some class restaurants, the host or hostess isn’t groomed well, is dressed like a deck hand, doesn’t speak English correctly, keeps you waiting for no reason, and acts as if you’re an imposition? Although your name is in front of them on the computer, yet they don’t use it.

Could it be that they can’t read?

My HP copier nags me when toner levels are low. Aside from black, which gets the most use, of course, it has strange names like cayenne, and magenta, heliotrope, and so on.

Anyway, the copier indicates it’s low on toner and while I have the weird color cartridges, I don’t have black. I make a trip over to Staples, having carefully noted the model number, serial, and so forth, and I purchase two black cartridges, one for now and one for the next time. Black runs out faster. I’m a great planner.

When I open the machine to install it, I find that black is fine, but the other colors are the ones that ran out. I never bothered to click on which colors were low.

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Learn how to create, organize, deliver, and support a workshop with minimal labor and time. A lot of people attend my sessions twice, the second time to watch how I do it. This is the first reprise of a session I did five years ago. You’ll emerge with a template to create and deliver workshops effortlessly and rapidly for any client or for public sessions.

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Balancing Act® is a monthly electronic newsletter discussing the blending of life, work, and relationships, based on the popular Balancing Act workshops and writing of Alan Weiss, Ph.D. Contact us for further information at: [email protected].
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© Alan Weiss 2018

Balancing Act® is our registered trademark. You are encouraged to share the contents with others with appropriate attribution. Please use the ® whenever the phrase "Balancing Act" is used in connection with this newsletter or our workshops.


See Writing on the Wall, featuring Koufax the Wonder Dog.





There’s a place between unctuous and apathetic, as rare as Oz, where really great service has been known to occur. 

Alan Weiss